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Title: Post-common-envelope binaries from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey
Author: Rebassa-Mansergas, A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2693 0652
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2008
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Close binaries containing a compact object make up a wide variety of objects. The evolution of all close binaries depends crucially on the rate at which angular momentum is extracted from the binary orbit. The two most important sources of angular momentum loss are the common envelope phase and magnetic braking. Both processes have been known for long but are still poorly understood, and significant progress will only be achieved if they can be calibrated using innovative observational input. Post-common-envelope binaries are probably among the best-suited class of objects to improve our understanding of close binary evolution, because (1) they are both numerous and well-understood in terms of their stellar components, and (2) they are not contaminated by the presence of an accretion disc. The Sloan Digital Sky Survey provides the possibility of dramatically improving the observational size of known post-common-envelope binaries, with already more than 1500 white dwarf-main sequence binaries having been identified. The major task is now to identify those systems that have undergone a common envelope and to measure their binary parameters. This new, large sample of well-studied post-common-envelope binaries will then provide the much-needed constraints for further development of binary evolution theory. Through my PhD I dedicated all my efforts towards identifying post-common-envelope binaries, obtaining orbital periods of these new systems, and determining their stellar parameters. For this purpose, I adopted the following strategies: (1) About 10% of the white dwarf-main sequence binaries in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey have more than one survey spectrum available. By measuring radial velocities from the Na I ll 8183.27,8194.81 absorption doublet and/or the Ha emission line in the different spectra from each object, I was able to identify radial velocity variable stars, which are prime candidates for being post-common-envelope binaries. This method resulted in the identification of 18 new post-common-envelope binaries among 130 white dwarf-main sequence binaries with multiple Sloan spectra. In addition, using a spectral decomposition/ model atmosphere analysis I determined the stellar parameters such as mass, radius, and temperature for the white dwarfs, and spectral types of the main sequence stars in these 130 white dwarf-main sequence binaries, along with the distances to the systems. I discussed also an apparent systematic issue with the spectral type-radius relation of the companion stars in those white dwarf-main sequence binaries. (2) Follow-up observations by our team have lead to the identification of 89 postcommon-envelope binaries from Sloan, which triples the number previously known. Intense radial velocity studies have lead to the determination of orbital periods for 42 of these systems, seven of them discussed in detail in this thesis. (3) I have developed a procedure based on c2 template fitting and signal-to-noise ratio constraints to identify white dwarf-main sequence binary candidates in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 6 spectroscopic data base. This catalogue contains 1591 white dwarf-main sequence binaries identified in this way. Using a spectral decomposition/model atmosphere analysis, I have derived white dwarf temperatures, masses, companion star spectral types, and distances, and discussed the distributions of these parameters. In addition, I have analysed the selection effects of white dwarf-main sequence binaries in Sloan. This sample is an excellent data base for future follow-up observational studies of white dwarf-main sequence binaries.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: QB Astronomy